The Harp in the South

By Ruth Park,

Book cover of The Harp in the South

Book description

An Australian classic, this is the story of the Darcy family who live in the Depression era tenements of Surry Hills, Sydney.

Hugh and Margaret Darcy are raising their family in Sydney amid the brothels, grog shops, and run-down boarding houses of Surry Hills, where money is scarce and life…


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Why read it?

2 authors picked The Harp in the South as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

This is an Australian classic. Published in 1948, Park wrote this, her first novel, when she moved to the crowded, chaotic impoverished inner Sydney suburb of Surry Hills. Fascinated and deeply stirred by what she saw, her novel centres on the close-knit Darcy family whose love for one another and enduring joy for life is in stark contrast to the harsh and occasionally brutal world around them. Park’s love for her characters and for her city shines through and provides a magical yet thoughtful window on a Sydney in the years immediately following the war. I worked in Surry Hills…

From Maggie's list on to uncover Sydney’s past.

To me, this is the original Cloudstreet—a true-to-life, bittersweet tale of the impoverished Darcy family and their tribulations in a slum in Surrey Hills, Sydney, following the depression. Ruth Park might be a Kiwi (New Zealander), but we won’t hold that against her, although some might be unable to see past the attitudes and occasional slurs that were prevalent at the time. This is the second book in Park’s heartwarming, gritty and realistic series about Australian persistence and courage in the face of misfortune but it was written and published first. While parts of this Australia of yesteryear…

From Karin's list on understanding the Australian spirit.

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